Jordan Spieth had a five-shot lead with nine holes to play en route his second consecutive Masters title. He’d led the tournament for seven straight rounds over two years and was playing with all the confidence available to best golfer of his age who’s ever played.

But Spieth’s bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes and his quadruple bogey on the 12th quickly showcased the sport’s fickle ways and how the briefest lapse can change a scoreboard like an ever-spinning slot machine. Often made look easy by the game’s best players, golf is an endeavor in which the same skilled players can unravel on the same level as weekend hackers.

Spieth is like no other golfer

Spieth’s precision, his confidence, his putting accuracy, his maturity and his young age have all meshed like no other golfer. He won five tournaments last season, including two majors. He’s been the only player in the past few years who when entered in a tournament makes the name Tiger Woods an afterthought among fans in attendance or watching on television.

Spieth’s meteoric success — nine professional titles (seven on the PGA Tour) — has further made it easy to forget he’s 22 years old. But the reality of golf is that the sudden loss of the required concentration, particularly on iconic course layouts like Augusta National, can quickly humble anyone. The game that requires hitting a small white ball with a long, thin piece of metal into a small hole on a patch of grass as slick as a billiards table top, comes quickly into focus as one of sport’s most difficult tasks.

Golf is difficult to master

Unheralded Danny Willett won the Masters with a final-round 67, and his career has forever changed. He’s the immediate headline. But the overwhelming question is how Spieth’s collapse will affect the golfer who name has already has been included in discussions of golf’s finest players.

Greg Norman, the great Australian player, was never the same after his numerous collapses with major titles within reach. Frenchman Jean van de Velde who collapsed on the 18th hole of the 1999 British Open with a triple bogey while in the lead and eventually lost in a three-way playoff, was never the same.

Spieth’s fate remains to be seen. He said he hopes to never again have an experience like the 30 minutes in which he lost six strokes to par on three holes and lost the Masters. Week after week, one of the great attractions of the PGA Tour is that there’s an appealing storyline for every player in the field. There will be none more intriguing than how Spieth plays in his next tournament.

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